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Coronavirus: Gov. Jared Polis says state economy may reopen in May

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  • Colorado Gov. Jared Polis struck a relatively optimistic tone about his state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during a Wednesday interview with Insider. 
  • Polis argued that if his constituents abide by his “stay home” order through April 26, some might be able to go back to work at the end of the month, while taking certain precautions.
  • “Until there’s a vaccine or cure, things won’t return to the way they were in January or February,” he said, “but at least there will be a way where people can go about their business, go to work, and we can operate in a sustainable way that’s closer to normalcy that includes additional precautions.” 
  • Experts warn that if governments around the world end their social-distancing practices too quickly, there could be a devastating resurgence of infections. Polis has left open the possibility of extending the shutdown past April. 
  • The Democratic governor said he’s hopeful that, if his stay home order is taken seriously, the state won’t need more ventilators than those they have in their stockpile and have purchased and received from other states and the federal government. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis struck a relatively optimistic tone about his state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during a Wednesday interview with Insider — two days after he extended his statewide shutdown order to April 26. 

Polis argued that if his constituents “successfully” stay home through the end of the month, some might be able to go back to work next month, while taking certain precautions. The 44-year-old Democrat didn’t specify what kinds of measures Coloradans would have to take if he lifts the shutdown. 

“Until there’s a vaccine or cure, things won’t return to the way they were in January or February,” he said, “but at least there will be a way where people can go about their business, go to work, and we can operate in a sustainable way that’s closer to normalcy that includes additional precautions.” 

Experts warn that if governments around the world end their social distancing practices too quickly, there could be a devastating resurgence of infections. The president recently extended the national voluntary shutdown until April 30. 

Polis has repeatedly pleaded for supplemental medical supplies, including 10,000 ventilators, from the federal stockpile and accused the federal government of outbidding his state on crucial equipment orders and not being transparent about whether Colorado could expect help. Polis accused the Federal Emergency Management Agency of swooping in and buying 500 ventilators his state was set to purchase. 

After more than a week of Polis’ public pleading, President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he’ll “immediately” send Colorado 100 ventilators — just a fraction of the number requested — and credited Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s advocacy.

Polis said he’s hopeful that, if his “stay home” order is taken seriously, the state won’t need additional breathing-assistance machines. 

“We have about 500 more ventilators than we did a month ago when the crisis started. If Coloradans are successful in staying at home, that should hopefully be enough to provide the life-saving intervention for those who need it,” the governor said.

He added that he’s “certainly appreciative” of the 100 additional machines from the federal stockpile. 

Colorado confirmed its first infection on March 5 and, as of Wednesday, had 5,655 cases and 193 deaths. About 5% of coronavirus patients require a mechanical ventilator, which are necessary to save the lives of those with acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

Just eight states in the country don’t have statewide stay home orders in place. Four of those states — Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Utah — border Colorado. Polis said he hopes his neighbors have their infection rates under control and don’t cross state borders. 

“What’ll hurt us is if their viral rates spiral out of control and people from those states come to our state,” he said. “Whatever technique they’re using, I hope it works.”

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